A friend of mine (I’ll identify him if he so desires) sent me the following email:
Just a quick thought. With Amazon hyping up the new Kindle so much, and with so many quality e-book readers available, why are Kindle edition books more expensive than the dead tree versions? There is no production cost beyond digitizing the media ( no trees to cut, ink to buy, covers to design, etc.) except for hosting and distribution from the server. I don’t see e-books replacing dead trees until the price can be lowered enough to provide an incentive.
An example, I would gladly buy a Kindle (even though I love my library) if I knew that over time, I would break even on my investment. So, if the books were $1.50 cheaper in e-book edition, my break even point would be around 230 books. This can never happen with the prices being higher. Other than the obvious ecological benefits, there is no real incentive to go with e-books. Also, with licensing, there is a good chance that I can’t share my library with friends. Just a random thought. I figured you might have some insight on this and an interesting opinion. Any thoughts?
I think this is an excellent observation. My first thought on this is that the cost of maintaining the infrastructure for the e-content right now is rather high due to the immaturity of the space. I think it’s many times more expensive than it will be relative to the cost of publishing dead-tree versions.
In other words, dead-tree publishing is currently as cheap as it’ll ever be, and e-publishing is currently as expensive as it’ll ever be. And right now e-publishing is currently a bit higher.
Within a short time (perhaps a year or so) I expect this to equalize, and then within another 1-3 years I expect e-publishing to be far more economical.
So, as a short answer: the solution is currently an early-adopter solution, as it does cost more due to being a new model. But as things mature e-books will become far cheaper than dead-tree versions.
What do you guys think?